Health Action: Exercise and Relaxation in Pregnancy

Antenatal and other gentle exercises help to keep you fit, prepare you for the physical demands of labour, and speed recovery after the birth. Relaxation exercises relieve stress of the mind and the body and conserve energy to allow you to cope more effectively with labour.


You can maintain your previous level of exercise during pregnancy, but you may need to modify some exercises because you are more vulnerable to injury. Drink lots of water and try not to push your heart rate over 140beats per minute.


Since your weight is supported by water, swimming is a comfortable and relaxing exercise.

Brisk walking

You can easily incorporate a brisk walk into your daily routine.

Antenatal exercises

Exercises can help to relieve some of the discomforts of pregnancy, such as backache, and in most cases are very beneficial for both mother and baby. For example, pelvic tilt exercises are an excellent way to improve posture. Antenatal exercise classes can teach you how to exercise safely.

Pelvic tilt exercises

Tighten your buttocks and tuck your pelvis under, then relax the buttocks and rock the pelvis back; repeat several times. Do this a number of times a day.


Certain breathing and relaxation techniques, such as massage, can help you to cope better with labour. Antenatal or yoga classes may teach you how to contract and relax muscle groups all over your body (see Relaxation exercises).


Massage can help you to relax and can lessen pain in the early stages of labour.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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